Hub for arts and culture

In between the dusty roads of Al Quoz and the hustle and bustle of the city, lies the gateway to a hidden cultural oasis. Behind two gates stands The Courtyard, attached to a handful of buildings with several facades depicting the architecture of the Gulf.

Here,  you can stroll along cobblestone walkways surrounded by rich designs camouflaged by lush greenery alongside a flowing fountain. Urban eateries, interior design havens, a photography studio and traditional buildings  made from reclaimed materials housing art galleries define the alleyway.

Founded by architectural adviser, consultant and acclaimed photographer, Dariush Zandi, the concept of The Courtyard was to create a viable multidisciplinary community centre and meeting place, that would unite people of all ethnic backgrounds and encourage them to engage in art and culture.

Although built in the 90s, The Courtyard boasts plenty of sustainability touch points with recycled features such as window panes and metal bars. Much like the exterior, the interior is also fitted in the same vein, with barbeque boxes filling in for coffee tables. Similarly, the plants within the grounds have been sourced from all over the UAE  attracting all kinds of local birdlife.

This hidden gem also plays host to pop-up markets throughout the year. Stop by and pick up organic fruits, vegetables, preserves, chemical-free produce (grown by the The Courtyard themselves), or even a potted plant or two to spruce up your garden.

Spend the day browsing the corner stores for little trinkets or check out the nooks and crannies for that perfectly Instagrammable picture – all while sipping on your Boston Lane coffee.  Later, lounge in cafe Cassette and finish the day discovering local talent displayed at the Total Arts gallery. A day well spent if you ask us!


With the option to rent out the alleyway, this snug space does not go unnoticed. If you’re tired of the mundane outings in the regular restaurants, plan a private, intimate dinner amongst your friends and family. Being a hub for all things creative, showcase your next art show or organise a cultural event.



In a charming space at the end of the courtyard stands the Total Arts gallery, the oldest art gallery in Dubai. It hosts frequently changing exhibitions that display art ranging from international and local artists. With a specialisation in Middle Eastern arts, walk through the space to discover futuristic installations as well as some traditional pieces. Total Arts also encourages and displays local talent.


If you enjoy a good coffee we’ve found the place for you. You’ll find pink walls, tiled floors and potted plants in this season’s go-to spot. Inspired by Melbourne’s laneway coffee culture, Australian-owned homegrown café Boston Lane offers humble yet delicious treats. Their palette ranges from healthy salad bowls to savoury pastries, sugar-free treats and authentic cheese toasties.



This quaint and intimate theatre’s stage welcomes any and everyone. A unique space for comedy and theatre-lovers of the region. Stop by the Courtyard Playhouse for an entertaining evening. Aside from the improv and stand-up comedy shows, the Playhouse also hosts acting workshops.



A modern Parisian bistro, Cassette offers a wide variety of bites and meals with subtle hints of French familiarity. Deep rooted with the love for art, design, and music, pop in to browse through their selection of groovy records to play on their record player…Release your inner DJ!



Enter the most aesthetically pleasing treasure gem and interior design store you will ever visit. Inside is a carefully curated range of ethically sourced rugs, lighting fixtures and accessories. Shop these handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces from across the globe that are waiting to furnish your homes. If you’re not in the purchasing mood try joining one of their workshops for some DIY inspo.

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Words: Meghna Gopalan

– For more about Dubai’s lifestyle, news and fashion scene straight to your newsfeed, follow us on Facebook

Photography: Mustufa Abidi